From Bog Iron to Chain-mail


Period: Iron Age (500 BC - 800 AD)


Project title: Ringbrynjer fra Danske Jernalderfund


Researcher: Henriette Lyngstrøm, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Email: lyngst(at)


Year: 2009





Armour of chain-mail is one of the most important inventions in prehistoric war technology. Wearing a mail-shirt the warrior could be protected from cuts and still be able to move freely. The chain-mail of the Iron Age was made with locally produced bog iron. But how do you make fine riveted rings of a lump of coarse raw iron? Bog Iron is difficult to forge and must go through a long process of purification before it can be cut, punched, pulled and riveted into the ríngs of a mail shirt. Henriette Lyngstrøm will be going through the process from bog Iron to chain-mail. First she will be winning the Iron from a local Iron ore, then the Iron will be purified and forged into rings for chain-mail like the ones from famous find such as the weapons sacrifices from Thorsbjerg and Viemose.



The Researchers Conclusion:


The experiment was carried out in three parts including reconnaissance, roasting and purifying the bog iron from three different and distinctly different geological locations. These were 1) HEM 4840 Rønkilde I - 9 kilos of roasted bog iron, 2) HØM 3432 Vilhelmslyst - 12 kilos ristet malm og 3) Guldforhoved - 14,5 kilos of roasted bog Iron. The Iron was later won producing 2, 0,5 and 1,5 kilos of raw iron.


Iron from Guldforhoved (HAFF 04/09) and St. Dyrehave (HAF 07/01), which had been won in connexion with previous experiments at the Land of Legends, was subsequently used for experiments with forging, puling and punched rings. The iron was reduced to an iron thread of 2,5 mm and the pulled to a thickness of 1,7 mm to resemble the chain mail from the Thorsbjerg find and 0,9 mm to resemble the thickness of the chain mail from the Hedegård find. The thread was later wound in spirals with an outer diameter of 12,5 mm and 5 mm. Theses spirals were cut and punched into rings. Riveting and dying of the chain mail will possibly follow in later experiments.


Reference number HAFF 04/09